There are many types of technology consultants. They may be IT consultants, digital transformation consultants, or technology strategy advisers—or they may have more specific roles, like cloud solution architects, cybersecurity consultants, or ERP consultants. Though the roles and responsibilities of these job titles vary, their general goal is the same: to help companies adopt new technologies.
Technology consulting is a booming industry, with revenue of more than $600 billion in 2022, which is itself an increase of almost $30 billion over the previous year. Every year, new technologies inspire companies to innovate the way they do things. Companies that bring the right technology consultant onboard at the right time can fuel a broader transformation, discovering tech-enabled efficiencies and spurring innovation through the use of new technology tools.
What is technology consulting?
Technology consulting is a service in which experts advise a company on how to choose, adopt, and implement technologies throughout the workplace. In general, a technology consultant contract will last anywhere from several weeks to several years for larger projects. Technology consulting services help organizations leverage technology to create more efficient workplaces.
A technology consultant will assess the client’s current challenges, establishing a relationship with key stakeholders in the process. They then diagnose problems they can help solve. After helping carry out the proposed plan of action and ensuring the client is equipped to maintain the changes, the consultant ends their part in the project.
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Benefits of technology consulting
The scope of tech consultants’ work can be extremely broad (generally overhauling software and security) or very narrow (moving data to the cloud). Some of the benefits they can provide include:
Adopting a new technology strategy
A tech consultant can help you plot a technology strategy, forecasting what upcoming technology trends may be worth adopting, and suggesting how a business can prepare for new tech innovations that may impact its business. With current innovations in AI, for example, many businesses are keen to jump on board and utilize these technologies; a tech strategist can explain when and how AI could be practical.
Choosing a tech stack and software
Tech consultants with an operations background can evaluate business processes that are being performed manually throughout the workforce and suggest places where technology investments might streamline operations. Automation can greatly amplify a company’s output, and a tech consultant can help you identify opportunities to apply it.
Enhancing data security
Cybersecurity consultants do risk assessments, analyzing everything from the code structuring your site to the way enterprise data is warehoused and analyzed, helping you avoid data breaches. Additionally, consultants with expertise in compliance can ensure you follow data protection guidelines like HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GDPR, if those are relevant to your industry.
Utilizing data analytics
Understanding how consumers behave online and what drives their actions, and how to get them to find and choose your company requires a strong understanding of analytics, and market leaders that properly harvest and analyze it hold an advantage over their competitors. A technology consultant can help you choose the analytics tools and metrics most relevant to your business.
Streamlining inventory and resource planning
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software are powerful tools that integrate things such as supply chain logistics, manufacturing, sales, and customer support into one dashboard. Choosing and onboarding an ERP solution can be complex, but a technology consultant can guide the transition and oversee its rollout—potentially resulting in major logistical efficiencies throughout the operation.
How to choose a technology consultant
- Define your goals
- Set a budget
- Look for certifications and experience
- Evaluate candidates’ soft skills
- Ask for proposals
Tech consultants can have a major impact on how your company adopts new technologies, how it runs day-to-day operations, and, ultimately, how future-proof it is. Here are the steps to consider when choosing a tech consultant for your business:
1. Define your goals
Before you hire a technology consultant, you need to have a clear idea of your goals and requirements. Perhaps you need someone who can help you develop a tech strategy and adopt emerging technologies. Or you may be looking for a specialist with specific expertise in an area like project management, inventory planning, cybersecurity, UX/UI, artificial intelligence, or software development. The person you hire may ultimately wear multiple hats and carry multiple titles—such is the nature of the consulting industry—but knowing what you want out of the engagement will help you narrow the options.
2. Set a budget
The next step is to figure out how you’re going to pay for the project. Consider both the consultant’s fees—which may be hourly or packaged—but also the costs of purchasing or implementing any new technologies.
3. Look for certifications and experience
Once you’re ready to hire, approach consultants with the kind of experience you’re looking for, or solicit applications. Look for relevant experience: Certifications are a great start. If you’re looking for someone to help beef up your analytics operation, you may want a Certified Data Professional (CDP) or a Certified Analytics Professional (CAP). Someone helping you overhaul project management systems might have a Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification. A simple search can help you find the most authoritative certifications in any given field.
Consider degrees in relevant fields and on-the-job experience, too, especially if the candidates can provide case studies and verifiable metrics improved by previous consulting work.
4. Evaluate candidates’ soft skills
A consultant will likely be interfacing with people throughout the company, presenting new ideas and trying to build buy-in. Look for a consultant with strong communication and presentation skills, who’s able to explain complex technologies in simple terms. Depending on the scope of the project, teamwork, creativity, adaptability and time management should also be qualities in a technology consultant.
5. Ask for proposals
Finally, ask for proposals from any consultant you’re serious about hiring. This should break down pricing, timeline, and phases of work. From there, it’s a simple matter of matching the proposals to your budget and needs. Assess your overall impression of the candidate’s expertise and soft skills, and move forward appropriately.
Technology consulting FAQ
What is the difference between IT consulting and technology consulting?
IT consulting is a subset of technology consulting. IT consulting focuses more on managing existing information technology systems, while technology consulting encompasses broader issues, including digital transformation and technology strategy.
Are technology consulting services only for large enterprises?
Technology consulting services can benefit both large enterprises and small businesses, and can provide guidance on technology adoption, strategy, and implementation based on the company’s budget and positioning.
At what stage in my startup’s growth should I consider hiring a technology consultant?
Depending on your industry, it can be beneficial to hire a technology consultant early on, so they can advise your technology strategy, infrastructure setup, and product development.